Zonie Land: Arizona Cocktail Week Contest

I recently submitted this cocktail recipe for a contest held by Arizona Cocktail Week. The rules of the contest were these:

  • No more than 6 ingredients
  • Need to incorporate a chile pepper
  • Southwest theme
  • Paragraph of inspiration
  • Name the cocktail
  • Base spirit of 1.5 oz

There were close to 100 entries from people across the United States, and I'm incredibly humbled to have won the contest and have "Zonie Land" featured as the official cocktail of Arizona Cocktail Week. For me, the competition wasn't really about winning as much as it was about the fun of creating something new to share with you. See the photo, recipe, and inspiration behind the drink below. As always, keep mixing.


You normally wouldn't associate tiki with Southwest, but there's a sense of escapism Tiki brings that I related to growing up in Arizona. My family comes from the midwest. My closest friends from the east coast, pacific northwest, and overseas. It seemed no one living in Arizona was actually from Arizona, so it felt foreign to me. I wanted to escape. When I moved away for part of my collegiate years, I jokingly referred to Arizona as"Zonie Land," a place I grew up but reluctantly called home. As time passed, and as I grew up I came to find Arizona has a weird way of nestling its way into your heart. The place I once wanted to escape turned to a place I now find myself settling and laying down roots. This cocktail represents my journey. On appearance, the sense of escapism. On taste, a sweet rush of citrus followed by a bite of chile and lingering flavor of a mesquite smoked whiskey sourced from an Arizona distillery. I crafted "Zonie Land" to taste like a home I no longer wish to escape.

What You Need


  • 1.5 oz Mesquite Smoked Whiskey (I used Del Bac Dorado Mesquite Smoked Whiskey)
  • 1/2 oz Chile Liqueur (Ancho Reyes)
  • 1 oz Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Orgeat
  • 1/4 oz Pineapple Syrup


1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with crushed ice. Shake to chill the drink, then pour the drink and ice into a tiki mug or highball glass. Fill with more crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.

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